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Posts for January, 2010

Wheatland WY is a place for hate

Timothy Kincaid

January 23rd, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to oppose the defamation of Jewish people. Although their primary focus is still on anti-Semitism, they have expanded their focus to oppose all forms of bigotry, defend democratic ideals and protect civil rights for all.

One of their current projects is a school based anti-bullying program called No Place for Hate.

No Place for Hate® was developed to organize schools to work together and develop projects that enhance the appreciation of diversity and foster harmony amongst diverse groups. The campaign empowers schools to promote respect for individual and group differences while challenging prejudice and bigotry.

Every day we make choices. We can choose to let anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of bigotry go unchallenged and potentially escalate, or we can choose to confront the bias that we see in our workplaces, homes, schools, and communities. As our world becomes smaller and our schools and communities more diverse, it is more critical than ever to actively build bridges to cross-cultural understanding and mutual respect.

bannerSchools across the nation participate in the program, including Wheatland High and West Elementary in Wheatland, Wyoming. They went through the steps of qualifying for participation and received banners which they hung at school, announcing that their campuses were No Place for Hate.

But then there were some protests and the banners were removed. In order to offer the program free to schools, ADL had sponsors whose names were included at the bottom of the banner.

They weren’t upset that Qwest, the communications company was listed. And they didn’t mind that the David & Laura Merage Foundation helped pay for the program. But that red circle with the words “Gay and Lesbian Fund” was simply unacceptable. So down they will stay. (WyomingNews)

Platte County School District 1 trustees voted 4-3 to keep the Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate” banners down at Wheatland High and West Elementary.

The trustees made no pretense at masking their anti-gay animus:

“If this is the way one chooses, then they can lead this particular lifestyle, but I don’t believe it needs to be publicly displayed in a school,” Dunham said.

Joe Fabian, another board member, said he believes the Anti-Defamation League is pushing an “agenda that is pro-gay marriage” and that the community of Wheatland is not supportive of that.

“They wouldn’t want the organization, the Anti-Defamation League, dictating to their children that an alternate lifestyle is a normal lifestyle,” he said.

Oh, but they like the rest of the program. Can’t they just continue with being a ‘not place for hate except for gays‘?

No. The ADL was quick to note the irony and will not not let the schools participate in the program if they encourage and reward biases.

So Wheatland, Wyoming, a seventy-five mile drive from Laramie, now has a new designation, an adopted identity. Wheatland IS a Place for Hate. And if you’re a gay kid attending those schools, now you clearly know it.